ELAOK August 2018 Newsletter

Having trouble viewing this email? View it as a Web page.
English Language Arts

August 2018

In this issue:

Welcome Back

Welcome Back with school supplies

The school year has already begun for some teachers, and for the rest, it will be here soon. During this busy time of year, we suggest you ponder three things:

  • Community: The opening weeks in August set the tone for the rest of the school year. Take time to get to know your students and to tell them a little bit about yourself as well. Students don’t care how much we know until they know how much we care. Show your students that you respect them as learners and individuals. Perhaps you can work together as a class to establish rules, expectations, or goals. Regardless of how you do it, build a community of kindness and support where all of your students feel valued. Sarah Wessling Brown, an English teacher and the 2010 National Teacher of the Year, has written about 14 ways to cultivate your classroom chemistry.
  • Procedures: The first few weeks are imperative to set expectations and procedures for your class community. Ensure that you take this opportunity to practice and model expectations/procedures multiple times. When students have clear expectations and procedures, they are able to feel confident in their choices, and decrease the amount of inappropriate choices leading to misbehavior. In this video, second grade teacher Patricia Mandragon is intentional with her students in defining clear expectations for her students during the first week of school, which will allow the remainder of the school year to have more time dedicated to academic growth. Also, Scholastic has a list of 30 procedures that will assist you in having a class that runs smoothly from day one.
  • Self-Care: The first month of school can feel like a frantic, stressful time. Take time for yourself even in the midst of your busy schedule. Pack some healthy snacks and leave them in your desk drawer. Keep some shoes in your classroom in case you need to go blow off some steam with a quick walk during your planning period, lunch, or after school. Grab a meal with a friend after work. Get plenty of sleep. Your heart, body, and mind will thank you. Need more ideas? Edutopia has seven strategies for self-care for teachers.

Teacher of the Year Finalists

Shari, Amy, & Jessica

At EngageOK on the Road in Norman in July, twelve state teacher of the year finalists were announced. Nine of the twelve finalists work with English language arts! Five teach elementary ELA, three teach secondary English, and one is a media specialist! The winner will be announced during the state fair on September 18. [Source: News 9 story]

  • Shari Gateley of Putnam City West High School is in her seventh year of teaching. She will teach AP English Language and AP English Literature this fall. [press release]
  • Amy Greenhaw of Jenks High School is in her sixteenth year of teaching. She teaches special education English to juniors. [press release]
  • Jessica Robinson of Altus High School is in her sixth year of teaching. This fall she will teach AP Literature, AP Government, Holocaust, and Link Crew leadership. [KSWO news article & video]

Professional Development Opportunities

Penny Kittle

The Oklahoma Council of Teachers of English will host its Fall Conference in Stillwater on the campus of Oklahoma State University on Saturday, October 13. The theme is “The Power of Voice: Every Classroom, Every Day,” and the keynote speaker is renowned literacy advocate and teacher Penny Kittle. Her newest book is 180 Days: Two Teachers and the Quest to Engage and Empower Adolescents (co-authored with Kelly Gallagher). The fall conference will feature a variety of sessions presented by teachers of all levels, students, and teacher educators. To submit a session proposal or to register for the conference, visit the OKCTE website.

The Fall Arts Institute at Quartz Mountain is an annual workshop retreat in southwestern Oklahoma. Multiple courses are taught by renowned artists, and this year is no different. This year’s workshops include painting, drawing, writing, photography, printmaking, music, and more. Unlike other workshops, all meals and lodging are included in tuition. Educators currently employed in Oklahoma public schools automatically receive full scholarships to attend OFAI. Two weekend courses are offered: October 4-7 and October 11-14. Registration begins August 14. Slots fill up quickly!

Meet the Secondary ELA Director

Jason in a green shirt

Jason Stephenson grew up in southeastern Oklahoma in Atoka and Holdenville. He graduated Oklahoma Baptist University summa cum laude with a B.S.E. in English Education. He has an M.A. in English with honors from the University of Central Oklahoma. A past president of the Oklahoma Council of Teachers of English, Jason has been an Oklahoma Writing Project teacher consultant since 2009. During his tenure at Deer Creek Public Schools in Edmond, he taught seventh and eighth grade reading, on-level and Pre-AP English 2, Creative Writing 1 and 2, and reading for fun. He also sponsored student council and worked as a curriculum technology coach. He was the 2008-2009 Deer Creek High School teacher of the year. Mr. Stephenson served on the writing committee for the Oklahoma Academic Standards for ELA. His favorite poets are Faith Shearin, Wisława Szymborksa, and George Bilgere. His favorite novel is One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez. His favorite book series is Ramona Quimby by Beverly Cleary. Jason joined the OSDE staff as Director of Secondary English Language Arts in July 2018. You can reach him at jason.stephenson@sde.ok.gov or on Twitter at teacherman82.

Monthly Features

Starting this month, we will feature a monthly writing prompt and a quote about reading or writing. The writing prompt is intended for you, the teacher, but if you decide the prompt is appropriate for your students, feel free to use it.

Writing Prompt

Healthy Fridge, Takeout Fridge

Quote of the Month

“If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” ― Stephen King